The Day I Was Born


I’m not sure how old I was here but the thing I see is that my mother was so very thin. I know she was still in bad health. Look at her arms.

Yesterday was my 76th birthday and I thought of my mom several times throughout the day. She’s been gone almost four years and I miss her. So, on my birthday, I thought of her and tried to remember all I had been told about the day I was born.

I guess the first thing is that Mama and Daddy ran off and got married when she was sixteen and he was seventeen. My maternal grandmother was not pleased. Since Mama was a minor she had the marriage annulled. But the love they had for each other in their teen years endured, and after Mama had a year of college and Daddy had a job in Oklahoma City they remarried.

In 1940, when I was born, they lived in a small apartment in Oklahoma City. Daddy earned 35¢ an hour working for Hires Root Beer Bottling Company. So, funds were tight even by 1940 standards.

Mama told me she didn’t eat much during her pregnancy. She mentioned lettuce leaves with mayonnaise. Surely she ate something else. She has always worried about her weight, but I can’t help but wonder if it had more to do with what they could afford. Anyway, she didn’t show much, plus it was winter so she wore a coat, so no one in the apartment house knew she was pregnant.

Mama was in labor three days before I was born. I was two months early and very small. My birth weight was not recorded because they rushed me to the incubator in the nursery. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the incubator. Mama told me she was in a room with several other new mothers. When the babies were brought into the room every four hours, all the other mothers were very quiet. They thought Mama had lost her baby. And then one day, I’m not sure when, I was placed in Mama’s arms for the first time and the room was filled with chatter and laughter.

I don’t know how long I was kept in the incubator or how long we stayed in the hospital. I know my mother was very ill after my birth. Probably had to do with the strict diet. As far as I know, no one in the immediate family came to help. (My maternal grandmother still disapproved of the marriage and was not pleased about being a grandmother.) Fortunately, one of Daddy’s aunts lived nearby and she came to help. Mama told me about Aunt Maggie although I’m not sure I ever met her… But I know this, Mama loved her all the days of her life. Little things mean a lot… and big things even more!